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  • The Soviet offensive 1943

    The question- if Hitler had not invaded in 41, but had concentrated on fighting the Uk (and then US) and Stalin had invaded in 43- who would win?

    The scenario

    September 1940, the string of German victories comes to a crashing halt in Southern England. Hitler, unwilling to listen to his military commanders, also believed Goering's caim that the RAF was finished and ordered the commencement of Sea Lion. He did this on the belief that even though the RAF was not totally out of the fight, it was now too weak to stop an invasion or protect the Royal Navy. By the end of September the Germans had lost 6 divisions worth of men, 10 divisions worth of equipment, 1200 more air crews, 1300+ aircraft, 4000 small craft, 37 transports, 9 destroyers, 2 cruisers and 15 torpedo boats. The loss of barges had forced vital river commerce to a virtual standstill and severely disrupted the German economy. Virtually obliterated were the navy and the Luftwaffe which had less than a thousand serviceable combat planes.

    The defeat strangely coincided to a sudden Soviet upswing in the supply of needed raw materials. As one general officer said, Stalin is going to fight England to the last German. The defeat left Hitler feeling vulnerable, as least temporarily, never one to enjoy stay down, he made Goering pay the price-pushing the Luftwaffe chief out and stripping him of his titles awards and privileges in what was widely considered a show trial.

    Regardless the defeat left him and Germany weak enough that he was open to listening to a rare united front by the Luftwaffe, Heer and industry. As a result of the meeting he agreed to curtail future plans until the German economy and military had recovered to at least 1939 levels. However, he refused to put the economy on a war time footing. This meant that industry and the Luftwaffe got the bulk of scarce resources and several HEER divisions were either demobilized or moved to reserve status. Though as a sop, the number of motorized divisions the Heer would have was to increased by five plus 2 more panzer divisions.

    As it turns out, the failure of Italy in North Africa and Greece meant the army did not get much of a break, as a result it did not expand, the resources for expansion being used up in the Balkans and the sinking of two panzer divisions worth of equipment on their way to Libya. Yet as effective as British submarines were, they could not stop the arrival of the DAK, rapidly increased to a full panzer armee. In a hard fought campaign, Rommel would enter Cairo on January 5th 1942. One reason the fighting took over a year is a huge amount of supplies shipped to England by the United States. With little hope of an immediate return to Europe, allied leaders had decided on a Japan first strategy to save Singapore and the Philippines, but this meant the British had to hold Gibraltar and the Suez. This was something they could only attempt to do with the US' prodigious production.

    The result was still an eventual allied defeat, but one gained only at great cost for the Germans. US tanks like the M3 Stuart and M3 Grant and planes like the P-40 Warhawk flooded in, more than enough to make Germany bleed. Yet, with no other distractions, the German's were closer and could more easily support Rommel. At the cost of the trucks promised to the army to add five motorized divisions Rommel was able to keep his divisions supplied. The fighting also slowed the recovery of the Luftwaffe. Also hampering the Luftwaffe's recovery was the diversion of assets into a night fighter operation to combat British heavy bomber raids.

    With the situation in North Africa resolved, Hitler decided to avoid crossing into Palestine, In a public speech at the Sportspalast in May, 42 Hitler said, "what need do we have of a land infested with Jews? Better we arm the the Arabs and let them take of it." Privately, he was worried that further adventures to the South would delay his attack into Russia. With a semi peace on the ground OKH said they could be ready to invade Russia by July 1943 depending on the rains. The German divisions demobilized in 1940 began to be secretly called back.

    Then in November 1942 the Allies struck back, a British operation along the Suez and an American British landing in French North Africa. caught the Germans by surprise. The Abwher had assured OKH that the Americans were too busy with Japan to attack Germany. The invasion and offensive required Germany to redeploy a number of units as the allied offensives gained strength. Also pressuring the Germans were increasing allied bomber activity which now included American daylight raids over occupied Europe as well as persistent reports the allies were planning a spring invasion of Norway. The result was to keep Germany focused West not East.

    Even though most of the German army had been moved east, many of the best equipped and most capable units were in Africa or Norway and this created an opportunity for Stalin. Stalin's next move after splitting Poland with Hitler and occupying the Baltic and parts of the Balkans was revenge on Finland. In what has been called the Continuation War, Soviet troops re-invaded Finland in June 1941 and had forced Finland to submit by July 1942. Yet performance was poor, the effects of the purge and aging equipment were still evident. However, he was given a united front presented by Timoshenko, Budyonny and Zhukov. They argued successfully, that performance while poor was better than previous, as new officers learned their roles. They also pointed out that much of the new equipment coming on line had not been used and this led to higher losses, while largely preserving the secrecy of new items like the T-34 and Sturmovick.

    In fact the Germans had learned of the KV-2 but mistakenly thought it a Russian version of the Char-2B concept that had failed to stop the panzer divisions. The Soviet war gods argued that by the beginning of 1943 the Red Army and Red Air force would be largely re-equipped and ready to face the Germans if they betrayed the Soviet Union. Of course everyone knew this was code speak for when Stalin marched West.

    With the arrival of 1943 the German army was worried. Wastage in combat since France had limited the expansion of the army and had prevented almost half the panzer divisions from getting modern tanks. Many were still equipped with old tanks like the Pz 38, 37mm armed Pz III or captured French tanks. This had only begun to change with the arrival of the M4 Sherman in combat. The American tank armed with a 75mm duel purpose gun had proven superior to the pzIIIL the newest version of the German battle tank. New AFV's like the Stug IIIG and Pz IV G were being rushed into service, but the numbers were low and German production continued to lag.

    Signals intercepts, deserters and other sources also began to indicate that the Soviet Union was preparing to invade. When given notice of these concerns Hitler [ not taking the threat seriously], who had been made stronger by the failure of the Army in Africa, had made the army promise not to retreat out of Poland. He still expected to attack in June.

    Then the fall of Tunisia in May and the looming battle to defend Sicily meant the invasion of Russia would need to be postponed again. It also meant he was finally ready to put Germany's industries on a war time footing. Forcing Hitler to put Germany on a war time footing would be the army's last political concession the army would get out of Hitler. The series of defeats had weakened them and as much as they dreaded it, they began gearing up for the invasion of Russia code named Operation Barbarossa. The target date was June 1944- but the Soviets struck first.

    June 22, 1943, beginning at 4 AM, ten thousand guns began pounding the forward German lines. At the same time German radar sites began to see swarms of Soviet aircraft winging their way West. Behind them came the advance of the Western, 1st and 2nd Baltic Military fronts- 20 tank divisions, 12 mechanized infantry divisions, 2 cavalry divisions. Supporting the advance was an air drop of 6 airborne divisions. Behind the lead elements came the infantry- 56 rifle divisions to deal with any encirclements. All told the lead echelon and immediate follow on forces numbered 96 divisions. The Soviet forces attacked along three main axis of advance. In the north an offensive by the 1st Baltic Front was aimed at Konigsbeg and East Prussia, in the South towards Slovenia the 2nd Baltic Front aimed to cut Germany off from her Axis partners, while the main effort aimed at Warsaw and points west in the Center was handled by the Western Front.

    The goals were too effect the encirclement of the German army and rapidly cross the Vistula with the goal of obtaining beachheads across the Oder river on the outskirts of Berlin. In the South the Romania and Hungary were going to be hit be a combined force of 8 tank divisions, 5 mechanized divisions, 3 cavalry divisions, 8 mountain divisions and 41 rifle divisions in 3 fronts. In total the Soviet offensive totaled 161 divisions. Stavka reserves added another 10 tank divisions, 2 mechanized divisions and 40 rifle divisions

    Against the force pushing into Poland the Germans have 69 divisions, the rest being in the Balkans, Norway, France or Italy. All German infantry divisions have a full complement of pz-IV or stug III shorts and most AT guns have been upgraded to the 5cm pak 38. However, half the panzer divisions are equipped with tanks made before 1941, some still mount the 3.7cm gun. The more modern tanks having gone to Africa and now Sicily.

    Germany OOB- 216 divisions

    Army Group Norway
    - 8 inf, 2 mountain divisions

    Army group South- (split between Romania and Hungary) 3 panzer, 2 motorized, 1 mountain, 27 infantry divisions

    Army Group Poland- 10 panzer, 9 motorized, 1 cavalry and 49 infantry infantry divisions

    Army Group Italy- 3 panzer 8 infantry, 2 mountain

    Army Group West- 32 infantry divisions

    OKH reserves
    - 2 panzer, 1 mountain, 1 motorized and 26 infantry divisions

    Soviet OOB 265 divisions

    Western Front- 12 tank divisions, 6 mechanized divisions, 24 rifle divisions, 3 para divisions, 1 cavalry division

    1st Baltic Front
    - 4 tank divisions, 2 mechanized divisions, 20 rifle divisions, 3 para divisions

    2nd Baltic Front (LMD)- 4 tank divisions, 2 mechanized divisions, 12 rifle divisions, 1 cavalry division

    1st Belorussian Front- 8 tank divisions, 4 mechanized divisions, 40 rifle divisions

    1st Ukrainian Front- 5 tank divisions, 2 mechanize divisions, 16 rifle divisions

    2nd Ukrainian Front- 3 tank divisions, 3 mechanize divisions, 8 rifle divisions

    1st Carpathian Front- 8 mountain divisions, 10 rifle divisions, 3 cavalry divisions

    Stavka Reserve,- 10 tank divisions, 2 mechanized divisions, 9 airborne divisions, 40 rifle divisions

  • #2
    Originally posted by zraver View Post
    Army Group Poland- 10 panzer, 9 motorized, 1 cavalry and 49 infantry infantry divisions
    This is rougly the same number army group Center had before op MARS,
    (minus 7 security divisions and 7 infantry div ) , when the soviets attack
    probably the bulk of the infantry div from OKH reserves would be asigned
    here .

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by 1st cavalry View Post
      This is rougly the same number army group Center had before op MARS,
      (minus 7 security divisions and 7 infantry div ) , when the soviets attack
      probably the bulk of the infantry div from OKH reserves would be asigned
      here .
      OOB's are roughly what each side had in June 41. The Soviets are mostly re-equipped with the next generation of equipment and have had 4 solid years since the purges to knit the command structure back together. But this likely makes them merely lackadaisical instead of bumbling in a lot of areas and most of the senior commanders that failed so badly in 41 are still there.

      For the Germans I subtracted 10% of the infantry and all the security divisions and didn't upgrade the panzer divisions to the 75mm long Pz-IV. But I did upgrade the infantry divisiosn organic support and AT capabilities and made all divisions roughly equal no immobile fortress divisions.

      IIRC the average TO&E for a Soviet tank divisions built on the 1940 pattern was 300 battle tanks and 100 armored cars or light tanks vs a German Panzer division of 225 tanks so the Soviets have something like a 3:1 advantage in tanks and AFV's. The Soviet lead in the air and artillery is even bigger, though in the air the Germans enjoy the technological lead. In artillery the Soviet advantage in numbers is also an advantage in technology the German guns are out-ranged by Soviet guns and rockets.
      The Germans are better operators at almost every level and in every field however.

      So how would you defend?

      Comment


      • #4
        USSR - They've had a chance to work the kinks out of their new kit, got it in large numbers and are much more likely to be sitting on proper defensive lines. German recce will be much more spotty and Soviet border security better.

        The Red Army will also be better led than in the OTL - divisional and higher commanders will have had a more time to get used to their positions. The bigger question is do the Soviets have enough radios to co-ordinate their own movements.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
          USSR - They've had a chance to work the kinks out of their new kit, got it in large numbers and are much more likely to be sitting on proper defensive lines. German recce will be much more spotty and Soviet border security better.

          The Red Army will also be better led than in the OTL - divisional and higher commanders will have had a more time to get used to their positions. The bigger question is do the Soviets have enough radios to co-ordinate their own movements.
          Without the disruption caused by the war the Soviets have a lot of radios which is probably not the problem. Rather radio quality and radio discipline. Early on Russian radio security was a joke.

          Likewise the Soviets have lots of trucks, but few of them 4x4/4x6 which limits cross country mobility. They have lots of gasoline, very little of it high octane for fighters which limits performance. They have lots of engines, few master mechanics to repair them. Like Japan the rapid industrialization of the USSR meant a lot of the advances were handicapped with a built in Achilles Heel. Primarily because of a small technical base from a population not yet raised with technology.

          Training is going to be spotty as well. Some formations will be competent, but many won't be either through bad commanders or still getting used to new kit. Even those units that are competent are subject to misuse by high level commanders who don't get it. For example, in Mongolia Japanese tankers were terrified of Russian tankers who they claimed were very good shots. yet Zhukov still lost a quarter of his force. In Finland in 39 many of the troops were from warmer areas of the USSR and unprepared for a near arctic winter which escaped the notice of the predominantly Russian commanders.

          In Contrast in this scenario the German Army is highly trained, well led and has ample supporting technologies. The German short comings excepting the MG34/42 and air frames is in weapons. The 50mm L42 and L60 are both anemic against the T-34. In the T-34 the Soviets have a tank more effective against other tanks than the pz-III, just as effective at infantry support than the Pz-IV while being better protected and faster than either. German artillery is out ranged at every level. The Germans are still using light mortars and infantry guns but the Soviets are using medium mortars and have replaced infantry guns with the new 107 and 120mm mortars.

          German plans if they follow pre-war thoughts will focus on a thin frontier screen to serve as a trip wire followed by concentrations of local reserves and then deep reserves. In the realm of the tactical and operational arts the Germans are past-masters with a solid leavening of recent combat vets. But in the realm of the strategic ad political the Soviets are at least as good and with the Soviet spy network quite possibly better.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by zraver View Post
            OOB's are roughly what each side had in June 41. The Soviets are mostly re-equipped with the next generation of equipment and have had 4 solid years since the purges to knit the command structure back together. But this likely makes them merely lackadaisical instead of bumbling in a lot of areas and most of the senior commanders that failed so badly in 41 are still there.

            For the Germans I subtracted 10% of the infantry and all the security divisions and didn't upgrade the panzer divisions to the 75mm long Pz-IV. But I did upgrade the infantry divisiosn organic support and AT capabilities and made all divisions roughly equal no immobile fortress divisions.

            IIRC the average TO&E for a Soviet tank divisions built on the 1940 pattern was 300 battle tanks and 100 armored cars or light tanks vs a German Panzer division of 225 tanks so the Soviets have something like a 3:1 advantage in tanks and AFV's. The Soviet lead in the air and artillery is even bigger, though in the air the Germans enjoy the technological lead. In artillery the Soviet advantage in numbers is also an advantage in technology the German guns are out-ranged by Soviet guns and rockets.
            The Germans are better operators at almost every level and in every field however.

            So how would you defend?
            I will request 15 infantry div from OKH reserve.
            Front line :
            Baltic sea-Tilsit-Gumbingen-Elk , than futher south as historiclly.
            total length 540 km .
            Masurian lakes area 1 infantry plus 1 cavalry division.
            elsewhere: average divisional frontage 8 km .
            Armored reserve : 5 motorised corps , about 100 km apart , 30 or 40 km behind the front line.
            Front line lightly held , with reserves formed at every level from batalion upwards to counterattack local infiltrations before the soviets can dig in.
            Artilery is positioned 12 to 13 km behind the line of contact , the soviets must bring their arty 7km from the line of contact to execute efective CB
            fire, making them vulnerable to mortar fire or local counterattacks.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by 1st cavalry View Post
              I will request 15 infantry div from OKH reserve.
              Front line :
              Baltic sea-Tilsit-Gumbingen-Elk , than futher south as historiclly.
              total length 540 km .
              Masurian lakes area 1 infantry plus 1 cavalry division.
              elsewhere: average divisional frontage 8 km .
              Armored reserve : 5 motorised corps , about 100 km apart , 30 or 40 km behind the front line.
              Front line lightly held , with reserves formed at every level from batalion upwards to counterattack local infiltrations before the soviets can dig in.
              Artilery is positioned 12 to 13 km behind the line of contact , the soviets must bring their arty 7km from the line of contact to execute efective CB
              fire, making them vulnerable to mortar fire or local counterattacks.
              Nice, I even see the physiological ploy there...

              On the panzer/motorized corps reserves, what about VVS attacks on Bridges? The Red Army has ample bridging assets and liek the Allies in France can afford to blow most bridges to interrupt your movements. What about German settlers moved in under the resettlement program?

              Using Bagration as a model the Soviet offensive will likely consist of three phases- an infantry artillery assault to break in, tank corps to exploit and more infantry for mopping up and siege operations. Are you going to defend the population centers of Eastern Poland aka festungs?

              Depending on local weather and terrain I would. Unlike IRL the Red Army is short of cross country mobility so a festung across an important road or rail line is a good cork to buy your reserves time.

              Are you willing to deploy the bulk for the jagdwaffe away from the defense of the Reich to contest the advance of the Soviets, or do you seed the air to the Soviets?

              Scorched earth?

              Using the corps or higher level commanders in 41, who commands overall, do you split AGP in-twain like AGS into AGA and AGB in 42?

              For the Soviets a likely command structure is Timoshenko in overall command as CinC, Zhukov in tactical command of the break in, and Vatutin in command of the exploitation forces.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by zraver View Post
                Without the disruption caused by the war the Soviets have a lot of radios which is probably not the problem. Rather radio quality and radio discipline. Early on Russian radio security was a joke.
                I think that can be more attributed to the confusion and near panic caused by the initial German thrusts into the USSR. For the first few days the Red Army was a bit of a headless chicken. The OP indicates that the attack, while still launched without warning, won't be quite the surprise it was in 1941.
                Likewise the Soviets have lots of trucks, but few of them 4x4/4x6 which limits cross country mobility. They have lots of gasoline, very little of it high octane for fighters which limits performance. They have lots of engines, few master mechanics to repair them. Like Japan the rapid industrialization of the USSR meant a lot of the advances were handicapped with a built in Achilles Heel. Primarily because of a small technical base from a population not yet raised with technology.
                Surprisingly, the VVS planes did quite well using Soviet gasoline. Check the performance stats for the MiG-1/MiG-3, LaGG-5. The Soviets will also have time to develop a more advanced fuel industry. I can see the US taking an interest in preserving the USSR, for the obvious reason that the USA would be next if the USSR fell, so fuel technology would be an obvious trade. I agree that the Soviet truck fleet is mostly rear wheel drive, but the German fleet was in the same boat, and smaller. But the Soviets were also designing halftracks, eg ZIS-42, though their output nowhere equaled the Germans. However, they had the industrial base. They also had the GAZ-61 4WD which was a usable Bantam BRC-inspired design. But both the German and Soviet armies would still be heavily reliant on horses.
                Training is going to be spotty as well. Some formations will be competent, but many won't be either through bad commanders or still getting used to new kit. Even those units that are competent are subject to misuse by high level commanders who don't get it. For example, in Mongolia Japanese tankers were terrified of Russian tankers who they claimed were very good shots. yet Zhukov still lost a quarter of his force. In Finland in 39 many of the troops were from warmer areas of the USSR and unprepared for a near arctic winter which escaped the notice of the predominantly Russian commanders.
                This is an apples to oranges comparison, wrt 1939 tanks and anything later. The Soviet designs had bulletproof, as opposed shellproof armour. Neither the BT series nor the T-26 were paragons of protection. Also the T-26 was only moderately reliable, even compared to the BT. These two designs were to have been replaced by the T-34M and the T-50, with the KV-1 replacing the T-28. Likewise, while Zhukov had survived the Army Purge, not all of his divisional or battalion commanders were as experienced as they could've been. Again, using Finland as an example is more apples and oranges. The initial planning was a fiasco, but the Red Army learned quickly - witness what happened when competence was applied. The only imponderables are the competence of divisional commanders and the organisation of the forces. The Red Army learned quickly that the newly promoted commanders were out of their depth with the 1939 TOE and rejigged everything to make command less stressful. I can certainly see this being done to some extent, and average competence will certainly be higher than in 1941, though by how much is anyone's guess.
                In Contrast in this scenario the German Army is highly trained, well led and has ample supporting technologies. The German short comings excepting the MG34/42 and air frames is in weapons. The 50mm L42 and L60 are both anemic against the T-34. In the T-34 the Soviets have a tank more effective against other tanks than the pz-III, just as effective at infantry support than the Pz-IV while being better protected and faster than either. German artillery is out ranged at every level. The Germans are still using light mortars and infantry guns but the Soviets are using medium mortars and have replaced infantry guns with the new 107 and 120mm mortars.
                The German army had a tactical doctrine that supported commander initiative, but not all generals were that great. The Heer had expanded so rapidly that some divisional commanders were decidedly average. As for ample supporting technologies, not really. Because they haven't had the stress of fighting a long run war, the MG-34 will not have been replaced by the cheaper and simpler MG-42. You've correctly identified the German weakness in their weapon systems: they don't even have a reliable sub-machinegun. But then, the Red Army doesn't have a decent battle taxi.
                German plans if they follow pre-war thoughts will focus on a thin frontier screen to serve as a trip wire followed by concentrations of local reserves and then deep reserves. In the realm of the tactical and operational arts the Germans are past-masters with a solid leavening of recent combat vets. But in the realm of the strategic ad political the Soviets are at least as good and with the Soviet spy network quite possibly better.
                The OP assumes a German attack, not a Soviet one. If the Soviets do go first, then I can see your points. It will also be fairly obvious where the main thrusts would be - there are only so many strategic choices after all. On the military intelligence assessment you are too kind toward the Germans: everyone had trouble penetrating the USSR and getting decent information, and the Germans were worst. The USSR, on the other hand, had spies and sympathisers everywhere. I recommend reading Stalin's Secret War by Robert W. Stephan, even just the first chapter, to get an idea of the gulf between the two on the intelligence front.

                Comment


                • #9
                  [QUOTE=broderickwells;2268597]I think that can be more attributed to the confusion and near panic caused by the initial German thrusts into the USSR. For the first few days the Red Army was a bit of a headless chicken. The OP indicates that the attack, while still launched without warning, won't be quite the surprise it was in 1941.[/qute]

                  OP its the Soviets attacking. Soviet radio discipline even as late as Bagration with draconian radio security clamp down was still poor and AGC correctly identified th axis of the Soviet attacks and the units involved. Too bad Hitler and OKH ignored them.

                  Surprisingly, the VVS planes did quite well using Soviet gasoline. Check the performance stats for the MiG-1/MiG-3, LaGG-5. The Soviets will also have time to develop a more advanced fuel industry. I can see the US taking an interest in preserving the USSR, for the obvious reason that the USA would be next if the USSR fell, so fuel technology would be an obvious trade.
                  Those VVS planes were a lot like Japanese planes and had to sacrifice a lot to achieve even 3/4 of the performance of the German plans. Using wiki for a quick reference comparing the Lagg 3/66 against the Me109 G6, the Soviet fighter has similar power to weight but only by being much lighter with a much lighter armament and I assume a lack a lack of defensive features though not as bad as the Zero.

                  Also without the pressure of combat and the need to replace so many obsolete I-15 and I-16's the VVS won't be upgrading models nearly as fast and may well be a generation behind. The Mig 3 and Lagg-3 are likely to be the main front line fighters with the la-5 just coming into service. These would be going up against me109g+ and fw190's since the Luftwaffe still had the pressure of combat to develop technology rapidly to keep up with the allies. The Germans also have a well developed night fighter force.

                  The obvious exception being the Sturmovick given Hitler's love affair with the ju-87.

                  I agree that the Soviet truck fleet is mostly rear wheel drive, but the German fleet was in the same boat, and smaller. But the Soviets were also designing halftracks, eg ZIS-42, though their output nowhere equaled the Germans. However, they had the industrial base. They also had the GAZ-61 4WD which was a usable Bantam BRC-inspired design. But both the German and Soviet armies would still be heavily reliant on horses.
                  The Germans would be far less handicapped by 2x4 trucks than the Soviets since they are using interior lines and have a much more robust rail network reducing the truck miles needed to sustain operations.

                  This is an apples to oranges comparison, wrt 1939 tanks and anything later. The Soviet designs had bulletproof, as opposed shellproof armour. Neither the BT series nor the T-26 were paragons of protection. Also the T-26 was only moderately reliable, even compared to the BT.
                  Against Japanese tanks the T-26 might as well have been a T-34 vs a PzIII. In Spain the Nationalist forces equipped with PzI and II tank and Italian tankettes lived in fear of the T-26 which could punch them at 1000m. The Japanese tell a similar story in Mongolia. The Japanese also lacked AT guns and had a numerical advantage in every area but Zhukov still lost a 1/4 of his force. The force he led into battle in Mongolia was among the best the Soviets had but poor leadership and faulty doctrine led to heavy losses.


                  These two designs were to have been replaced by the T-34M and the T-50, with the KV-1 replacing the T-28. Likewise, while Zhukov had survived the Army Purge, not all of his divisional or battalion commanders were as experienced as they could've been. Again, using Finland as an example is more apples and oranges. The initial planning was a fiasco, but the Red Army learned quickly - witness what happened when competence was applied.
                  True but even as late as the battle for Berlin combat proven Soviet commanders were more likely to make blunders than Germans. I think this reflects the rather fixed and unresponsive Soviet system that relied on AAR's to prepare for the next fight rather than initiative to win the current fight.

                  The only imponderables are the competence of divisional commanders and the organization of the forces.
                  For the purpose of the thread the Soviets keep the 1940 pattern divisions and corps organization. Inside of those organizations they update technology replacing old tanks with new, replacing light mortars and infantry guns with medium and heavy mortars etc. The T-50 gets dropped, they discover it did not offer anything the t-34 didn't. BT series tanks get assigned to cavalry and recon units in the place of armored cars.

                  The Red Army learned quickly that the newly promoted commanders were out of their depth with the 1939 TOE and rejigged everything to make command less stressful. I can certainly see this being done to some extent, and average competence will certainly be higher than in 1941, though by how much is anyone's guess.
                  I think competence will be highest for set piece operations and fall off rapidly when the situation gets fluid.

                  The German army had a tactical doctrine that supported commander initiative, but not all generals were that great. The Heer had expanded so rapidly that some divisional commanders were decidedly average.
                  True, but this is a German army proven in France that has had 3 years plus lessons from North Africa to apply lessons learned.

                  As for ample supporting technologies, not really. Because they haven't had the stress of fighting a long run war, the MG-34 will not have been replaced by the cheaper and simpler MG-42.
                  The Germans have better radios, better machine guns, better training, better rail net work, 3 years to dig in, survey, site in guns etc. Plus with out the massive defeats of 41/42 the Soviets haven't had the chance to learn and perfect maskirovka.

                  You've correctly identified the German weakness in their weapon systems: they don't even have a reliable sub-machinegun. But then, the Red Army doesn't have a decent battle taxi.
                  I disagree about the subgun, what they don't have is subguns in big numbers but this is less of a draw back that it would be if the situation was reversed. the German system used riflemen to support the machine gun as opposed to the machine gun supporting the riflemen.

                  One big weapons failing of the Germans is their grenade. The primary grenade is an assault grenade (concussion) not a defensive frag grenade.

                  The OP assumes a German attack, not a Soviet one.
                  Nope, OP is a Soviet attack in 43 ahead of a German attack in 44.


                  If the Soviets do go first, then I can see your points. It will also be fairly obvious where the main thrusts would be - there are only so many strategic choices after all.
                  Agreed- East Prussia and the Baltic coast, Warsaw and the the Slovak border are the goals in Poland. In the Balkans, its a more traditional fight to seize capitol cities and force capitulation.

                  On the military intelligence assessment you are too kind toward the Germans: everyone had trouble penetrating the USSR and getting decent information, and the Germans were worst.
                  Again I disagree, Soviet signals discipline and deserters meant there was always a flood of intelligence coming in. While the Germans could not penetrate the upper echelons of the Soviet command, when the lower levels pass the mail to the Germans this is less of a handicap- if Hitler stays out.

                  The USSR, on the other hand, had spies and sympathisers everywhere. I recommend reading Stalin's Secret War by Robert W. Stephan, even just the first chapter, to get an idea of the gulf between the two on the intelligence front.
                  No disagreement at the strategic/political level. However if you read "Hitler's Greatest Defeat" you'll just how well AGC identified the Soviet plans

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by zraver View Post
                    Nice, I even see the physiological ploy there...

                    On the panzer/motorized corps reserves, what about VVS attacks on Bridges? The Red Army has ample bridging assets and liek the Allies in France can afford to blow most bridges to interrupt your movements. What about German settlers moved in under the resettlement program?

                    Using Bagration as a model the Soviet offensive will likely consist of three phases- an infantry artillery assault to break in, tank corps to exploit and more infantry for mopping up and siege operations. Are you going to defend the population centers of Eastern Poland aka festungs?

                    Depending on local weather and terrain I would. Unlike IRL the Red Army is short of cross country mobility so a festung across an important road or rail line is a good cork to buy your reserves time.

                    Are you willing to deploy the bulk for the jagdwaffe away from the defense of the Reich to contest the advance of the Soviets, or do you seed the air to the Soviets?

                    Scorched earth?

                    Using the corps or higher level commanders in 41, who commands overall, do you split AGP in-twain like AGS into AGA and AGB in 42?

                    For the Soviets a likely command structure is Timoshenko in overall command as CinC, Zhukov in tactical command of the break in, and Vatutin in command of the exploitation forces.
                    1 Jabo raids on their fighter bases, free hunting over friendly airspace.
                    population is evacuated to the rear.

                    2. yes , where rail and road network would hinder soviet movements.

                    3. If the landing in italy has not ocured, yes, alied fighter excort does not reaches Germany yet afaik.

                    4. bridges and rail , certainly.

                    5. during the defensive phase, the army group is not split, overall comand is given to von Kluge .

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by 1st cavalry View Post

                      5. during the defensive phase, the army group is not split, overall comand is given to von Kluge .
                      Assume that AGP is AGN and C from Barbarossa. With Kluge in overall command. Who are the commanders of your subordinate armies? Assuming Guderian, Hoth and Hoepner are your panzer commanders. Who commands 4th, 9th, 16th and 18th armies? Most interestingly who replaced Von Kluge, Heinrici?


                      Von Kluge proved adept at defensive battles that did not involve deep penetrations by Soviet armor. Though how much this has to do with his skill at preventing them, or the terrain in front in front of Moscow is unknown. I don't count the Soviet counter-attack in this regard for either preventing or reacting to penetrations becuase of the state the German army was in.

                      However both the Rzhev and Normandy show he was stubborn and did not like to give up ground and was fully wedded to the German idea of immediate local counter attacks.

                      Also note that AGP is facing around 9500 tanks, 6000 of them T-34's, 2000 light tanks, and about 400 KV-1 series and a hundred or so KV-2's. Against them AGP has about 3400 tanks and assault guns, 600 of them armed with 75mm shorts and 700 of them pz II recon tanks. Of the battle tanks, only about 1000 are 50mm long or 75mm long armed tanks, 600 with 50mm shorts and the rest 37mm armed tanks.

                      Your infantry has either 50mm pak 38's or 37mm pak36 but the 36's do have some of rifle-grenade style shaped charge rounds. One final note, your ammo is the higher quality tungsten not steel due to lower usage in the preceding years. The infantry also has some panzerfaust to replace the older panzerbuchse, but no panzershrecks in any numbers.

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                      • #12
                        Since this is 1943 the ranks are a bit scaled up but not by much ;

                        4th army : XXXXIII corps comander G. Heinrici
                        9th army : as in real timeline W. Model, (Strauss had steped down)

                        16th army : no changes , E. Busch.
                        18th army : Manstein instead of Lindemann.

                        For the second part , they might have more tanks but without trial by fire,
                        their interarms coperation ( with arty, infantry, aircraft ) would still be poor.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 1st cavalry View Post
                          Since this is 1943 the ranks are a bit scaled up but not by much ;

                          4th army : XXXXIII corps comander G. Heinrici
                          The obvious choice for obvious reasons

                          9th army : as in real timeline W. Model, (Strauss had steped down)

                          16th army : no changes , E. Busch.
                          18th army : Manstein instead of Lindemann.
                          Pantheon of modern German gods of war...

                          For the second part , they might have more tanks but without trial by fire,
                          their interarms coperation ( with arty, infantry, aircraft ) would still be poor.
                          Yup, something I mentioned earlier.

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                          • #14
                            Possible Soviet command struture

                            Stavka

                            Ioseph Stalin, Stavka, Generalissimo
                            Seymon Timoshenko, Stavka, Defense Commissar)
                            Boris Shaposhnikov, Stavka, chief of staff
                            Kliment Voroshilov, Stavka, at large
                            Lazar Kaganovich, Stavka (rail roads)
                            Leonoid Beria, Stavka (intelligence)

                            Poland


                            Georgy Zuhkov, commanding

                            Tank army commanders-

                            Ivan Konev, Center
                            Nikolai Vatutin, Center
                            Aleksandr Vasilevsky, North
                            Andre Yeryomenko South

                            Infantry commanders-

                            Rodion Malinovsky, break in, Center
                            Fyodor Tolbukhin, break in, North
                            Kirill Meretskov, break in, South
                            Leonoid Govorov, Reserve/ mopping up

                            South (incomplete)

                            Seymon Budyonny commanding

                            Tank commanders-
                            Fyodor Kuznetsov
                            Shestapolov
                            Kurkin

                            Infantry commanders-
                            Andrei Zhdanov

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                            • #15
                              What does the fuel oil reserve situation look like? I would think that two extra years of Russian shipments minus obscene uses in Africa and greater than OTL allotments given to the RM should leave the reich with similar to fewer reserves than OTL, am I right?
                              "In the absence of orders...find something and kill it!" Lt. General Erwin Rommel, 1942

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